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Samaritan Center Blog

Blog articles are written by members of the Samaritan staff for our counseling clients, our church and donor partners and for the larger community. They grow out of our reflections about how our life experiences are influenced by the interplay of mind, body, spirit and relationships. To learn more about the therapists who wrote these articles, click on their names in the by-line.  

 Understanding Childhood Grief 
by Matthew Percy, Psy.D.
Loss affects all people - children and adults - in profound and unique ways. One interesting and often challenging feature of grief is that it is a personal, subjective experience – no two people’s experiences of grief, even over the same loss, are the same. It is, therefore, important that parents and caregivers work to understand their children’s possible grieving. Then can a child receive the support they might not know how to ask for, and feel understood when they are in an emotional state that can feel foreign, confusing and uncomfortable.  Read more...

Trauma and Recovery 
by Deb Thomas, M.S.
At first glance, there was nothing outstanding about the way she looked. I stood behind a woman and her young family in a buffet line—all of us waiting to fill our plates. Nothing caught my eye until the woman turned toward me, making her full face visible, showing half her face unmarked and half seared with burn scars. An additional quick scan took in scars on the exposed parts of her right forearm and hands; she walked with a limp. I also noticed the easy manner the woman and family related to each other. In the seconds viewing the woman’s scars and her family, I imagined a story of trauma and recovery.  Read more... 

Another Kind Of Single  
by March Gunderson, M.Div., M.Ed. 
Standing in the self-help section of the bookstore at the age of 49, looking for a book on divorce, I felt conspicuous, desperate and in a state of disbelief.  I wished that I were invisible.  Once before,  years  earlier, I had become unexpectedly and painfully single because of my husband’s death.  The role of a widow seemed somehow more honorable. Death was clear cut;  divorce was not.  This is the trajectory no one wants their life to take.   Being divorced seemed shameful, tainted with regrets and uncertainty.  Read more...  

In the Shadow of Gun Violence 
by Jesse Dobner, B.A.
I was drawing the Giza Plateau, shading the pyramids to convey centuries of desert erosion while trying to keep my extra ebony pencils from rolling off the uneven art table I was sitting at with three other students. It was only second period, intro to line drawing. The class was quiet, students poring over their sketch pads, the soft steps of our instructor traced between the tables as he glanced over our projects. I looked up when I heard the classroom’s television turn on and saw one of the administrators of my small, private high school flipping through channels. She stopped on the local news and took a step back, keeping her back to the class and her eyes locked on the screen. Everyone was watching now; a parking lot full of ambulances, cop cars, crying teenagers. It was breaking news from Littleton, about thirty miles away from my school in Boulder, and the anchor was saying “possibly twenty dead,” “national tragedy,” and “school shooting.” That was April 20th, 1999 and the first time I had ever heard of Columbine High School.  Read more...

Forgiving:  A Path for Healing  
by Tita Subercaseaux, M.S.  
Forgiveness is not a popular concept in this culture where perfection is over- valued.  Our self-esteem is too often measured by how perfect and admired we feel we are.  When we find ourselves on either side of the equation -- having hurt someone or having been hurt, we face the human reality of our not being perfect.  It is hard to accept that there is no possibility of going through life without making mistakes.  Yet, it is through acknowledging our mistakes and our vulnerability that we grow deeper in our relationships.
When we ask someone for forgiveness, we become vulnerable.  When we acknowledge that we’ve hurt somebody, even without intending to, we are accepting that we are not perfect. It is a risk to do so, because we know we could feel humiliated, rejected or we could lose that person’s love and respect.  Read  more...   
“Showing Up”  A Mission Year in Bolivia   
By Bill Collins,M.S.
In Bolivia, my wife Kathy and I lived as volunteers, spending most of our time with children who were living in orphanages.  It was freeing to serve in a way where we were “extra.”  It gave us a lot of time to think about what it means to “show up” with regularity in the lives of children who don’t really have enough adult attention in their everyday lives. In the first week of my study of counseling, someone articulated a principle that I often thought of while we lived in Cochabamba:  “Don’t do for another something they can do for themselves.”  Perhaps one related story holds within it many of the new elements I returned with from a year of mission.  One of the first tasks Kathy and I had when we visited one orphanage was helping the children fold the clean laundry.  Having the boys and girls gradually learn to do for themselves is an important value in this home for children with physical disabilities.  Read more... 

Parenting Teens and Social Media
by Anna Anderson, M.S., M.Ed. 
Interacting with friends online is a huge part of the social lives of today’s teens.   Ninety five percent of teens from 12-17 years of age are now online, and eighty one percent of online teens use social media.  Most teens are more digitally savvy than their parents, and that often leaves parents feeling overwhelmed. Teens are using a variety of applications as technology evolves.  Highly visual applications with instant sharing are the most popular.  Facebook, Instragram, Twitter, Pinterest, Vine, Reddit, Tumbir, Kik, Snapchat, Pheed, Wanelo, and 4Chan are the hottest social platforms (Davidson, 2013).   Read more...   

“Hold Me Tight” A Guide for Couples
by Michael Rogers, MDiv, MA
I believe that Susan Johnson’s book, Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love, is a “must read” for two kinds of couples: those who are feeling stuck in the way they communicate and want to get unstuck, and those who feel close to each other and aspire to a greater level of transparency and intimacy.  It’s a great tool for couples to use when they’re in therapy, or for couples who simply want to improve their relationship to read on their own.  Here are my suggestions for reading the book together as a couple.   Read more...    

Survival Kit for Stepparents  
by Peggy Hansen, M.S.  
1. Give up the belief that there’s only one RIGHT way to do things. Be willing to consider new possibilities and other ways of looking at the world.
2. Try to stay in the present moment, rather than letting yourself slip back into the past or drift into the future. Focus on things you have some control over. 
3. Accept an appropriate amount of responsibility for maintaining a comfortable and safe emotional “climate” in your home, but don’t get stuck in managing every detail.   Read more...

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